Saturday by Ian McEwan - review by Matt Thorne

Matt Thorne

The Neurosurgeon’s Day Off

Saturday

By

Jonathan Cape 280pp £17.99 order from our bookshop
 

Ian McEwan has had a noble career. Only one of his ten novels is less than satisfactory, and it's not his fault that that book won the Booker Prize. He seems less egotistical and self-satisfied than other big names from his generation, and among his many considerable achievements is at least one cast-iron classic, The Comfort of Strangers.

His latest novel, Saturday, concerns one day in the life of Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon with strange hands. He is a down-to-earth sort, an atheist who finds quantum physics far-fetched. He is close to both his children, although his daughter Daisy, an aspiring poet who ‘wears short-skirted business suits and fresh white blouses, and rarely drinks and does her best work before 9am’, considers him ignorant and insensitive, and is trying to rectify these shortcomings by giving him a reading list including Darwin and Conrad. He follows her instruction without complaint, but when he is unimpressed by Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Daisy tells him that the novel is designed to reveal the damage done by men like him, although it is unclear whether we are supposed to take this as a daughter's facetiousness or the author's connection of Perowne with Flaubert's Charles Bovary. Certainly

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter